Arguing the World
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From their youth in New York's immigrant neighborhoods and their idealistic college days to the great battles during the McCarthy era and the 1960s, Arguing the World is "a potent generational experience" (J. Hoberman, Village Voice), "among the rare works that brings the lives of the mind to life on screen" (Robert Sklar, The Forward).
Top Customer Reviews
All of this is fascinating, especially the transition to the right, and their collision with the New Left in the Sixties. By that time, they'd all gotten recognition and prestigious university appointments--in Bob Dylan's words, they now "had something to protect." They're uniformly critical of the student radicals who sought them out in the early days of the New Left. Glazer, author of "Beyond the Melting Pot," refused to support the "Free Speech Movement" at UC Berkeley, while Bell and Howe have special disdain for Tom Hayden of SDS (Howe says "he had something of the Commissar about him," while Bell calls him "the Richard Nixon of the Left"). The (aging) New Leftists interviewed have equal scorn for them--Hayden says that they were spouting off while "I was going to jail for my beliefs" and dismisses Howe pithily: "I wasn't raised in a household where everyone shouted at each other." A former Berkeley student says, "Their idea of protest was to write a letter to the editor." Only Howe (who translated Yiddish poetry and wrote a highly regarded history of Jews in NYC) remained faithful to Socialism.Read more ›
Early in the feature, political philosopher Michael Walzer says, "If I try to think about the New York intellectual and specifically about these four New York Intellectuals, one of the most striking things about them....is, in a way, of thinking about the world. You can't being to analyze, say, the recent strikes in Detroit without starting with the division of labor in ancient Babylonia and working your way up: that's the context, the context is world history, and the questions you bring to your analysis are the largest questions, where are you going, where have you been."
In 1932, socialist candidate Norman Thomas, air to the party's Eugene V. Debs, won nearly a million votes in the presidential election, many of his supporters where from the new urban class of Jews. The socialist idea that inspired Daniel Bell and Irving Howe appeared first 100 years earlier by Karl Marx. Nathan Glazer's father read "The Forward," a socialist paper, and voted for Norman Thomas, Irving Kristol learned about radical politics from his sister who took him to the protest plays of Clifford Odets. Daniel Bell said, "When I joined the Epsilons in 1932, this is when Norman Thomas is running for president and a group of us would go from corner to corner with a step ladder to give talks...Read more ›
The film gives a decent look at where these men were from and, through interviews with them, it gives a good feel as to their positions on several topics then and now.
The greatest of them, Irving Kristol, became known as the Godfather of Neo Conservatism. He book, "Neo-Conservatism, Autobiography of an Idea" explains his journey from Trotskyism better than can be done here and what he says in the documentary herein is a summary of that Journey. Daniel Bell evolved into a well known economic and sociological thinker, Nathan Glazer has done excellent work on ethnic identity and how it shaped Americans and Irving Kristol, who maintained his early leftism, wrote an epic study of the Lower East Side at the turn of the last century, World of Our Fathers," which, for all its shortcomings, is well worth reading today.
By watching this documentary the viewer becomes aware of societal forces that gave rise to first bad ideas and their counteraction by good ideas that shape today's debates on public policy. It is worth buying and viewing!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What fun this book/DVD are. You can see the full doc uploaded to YouTube. Lefties of the 30s at CCNY mature, discuss their viewpoints and the historical changes (Stalin/communism)... Read morePublished 1 month ago by rs
Surprisingly compelling, this documentary follows the intellectual trajectories of four prominent intellectuals as their political, social and economic ideologies evolve in... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Ryan
A wonderful excursion back to the mid-30s New York and through the lives of four amazing individuals.Published 11 months ago by Dr. Robert I. Lerman
Ohhhh, we are all so brilliant. We tell ourselves we are so brilliant. Yes, yes, so brilliant. And the time we went to City College, oh, they, those people, were not so... Read morePublished 24 months ago by Teacher man
Not a great deal that's new here, but it's all tied together very well. These are among the most influential thinkers of the 20th century and their ideas and insights are as... Read morePublished on September 7, 2013 by Donald Beldock
in the end, it is ones actions done in line with ones thinking that affect the change in ones environment... Read morePublished on March 7, 2013 by J. Castle
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